7 Obvious Signs of a Busted Water Pipe (and How to Fix It)

brown water sign of busted pipe

Brown murky water can be a sign of a busted or leaky pipe.

It’s not a good situation. Carpets are soaked, walls are wet, and you’ve put in the call for help. While you’re taking care of cleanup and water damage at home, repair crews are on the way, but you keep asking yourself the same questions.

How could you miss the signs of a busted water pipe? Were there obvious clues that you just didn’t notice?

How Do You Know If a Pipe Has Burst? 7 Serious Warning Signs

Not all busted water pipes flood the house in a matter of minutes. Sometimes, a break results in a slow leak that eventually causes extensive water damage to your property and belongings.

This type of plumbing problem isn’t always dramatic, but it can become very serious. Be on the alert for these seven symptoms of a slowly leaking burst pipe.

1. Water Pressure Goes Up and Down

When water pressure begins to fluctuate, don’t assume it’s the city’s fault. It might be a busted pipe somewhere in the house. Pressure changes are hard on your home’s plumbing system, and they can damage pipe fittings.

2. The Water Doesn’t Look Right

Over time, a hidden burst pipe begins to rust. Even damaged PVC and PEX pipes throw off microscopic rust particles that give water a brownish tint. The unhealthy biofilm sets up a breeding ground for bacteria.

3. It Smells Like Rotten Eggs

This busted pipe symptom is always cause for concern. Even a faint rotten-egg odor is a sign of leaking sewage. You’re smelling hydrogen sulfide, a naturally occurring gas that forms in sewer lines. Never try to solve this type of plumbing problem by yourself. Call in certified technicians.

4. Puddles Keep Forming Under Sinks

You’ve done all you can to stop leaks in pipes under a sink, but puddles keep coming back. Carefully inspect the wall just above pipe cover plates, and look for damp spots. Burst pipe water seeping through these areas can accumulate and appear to be dripping from exposed pipes.

5. You Can Hear the Water

If it isn’t running somewhere in the house, you shouldn’t hear the water. If you notice hissing or gurgling noises inside the walls, you’re probably hearing water reacting to fluctuating pressure in leaky pipes. The sounds tend to be louder in pipes with small diameters.

6. The Pipes Are Making Noises

A busted pipe affects water pressure throughout the entire house, and that creates movement in the system. Pipes begin to rub and bang at tension points, and that causes grinding and clanging noises behind the walls. The friction eventually leads to even more breakage.

7. The Water Bill Is Too High

Small drips from faucets can waste more than 100 gallons of water a year. If you multiply that loss by slow leakage from a busted pipe, you begin to see alarming spikes in the monthly water bill.

What Do You Do When a Water Pipe Bursts?

Before you can pinpoint the problem and begin cleaning up after a water leak, you have to stop the flow. Locating a burst pipe can be a challenge, so start by turning off the water supply at its main shutoff valve. Drain water and pressure from the system by opening up all the faucets.

Most homeowners should contact a restoration contractor right away. You want someone who handles plumbing repairs, takes care of water damage cleanup and offers mold remediation services. If you’re comfortable with DIY plumbing projects, locate the break, and make repairs. These tips can help.

• Whether you’re dealing with frozen burst pipes or a summertime break, always turn off your home’s electricity at the breaker box before beginning any busted pipe repairs.

• If you have to thaw out frozen pipes before you can get started, be very careful. Take every precaution to protect yourself and your property.

• If the busted pipes are behind a kitchen wall, be prepared to completely dry out all adjacent cabinets and drawers after finishing repairs and cleanup.

• Document water damage to property and belongings by taking pictures. This helps streamline the process when you’re ready to file your homeowners insurance claim.

We’re Here Whenever You Need Us

Once you know what to look for, it’s so much easier to catch a busted pipe leak before it causes serious damage. Knowing how to handle this plumbing problem can keep a bad situation from getting worse.

Sometimes, fixing a burst pipe leak can turn into a big DIY headache. We’re here for you with a full line of water damage and home repair services, and we answer our phones 24/7. When you need emergency water leak repair in Chicago or the suburbs, just give us a call here at ServiceMaster by Zaba.

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